Model Railroading — Blog Post #5
European Railway Notes October 2016
Following on from last month, I wanted to learn more about the trains used to deal with emergencies that can happen out on the railway. From a photo of one of these trains I had found the phrase Netz Notfalltechnik (German for ‘network emergency technology’) and I googled this phrase. The first result is a Wikipedia article titled Hilfszug (Eisenbahn). When you right click on this page, one of the options in the Google Chrome browser is “Translate to English”. Now the title appears as “Emergency train (railway).” The translation isn’t perfect, but, I learned many things. The first time a crane car was used was 1870 in Germany followed by cars specifically designed to provide medical services in the 1950s. It turns out Germany has the most of these trains and most countries don’t have any dedicated rescue trains at all. Most have maintenance of way equipment, such as cranes, that are used for construction and would be used as needed in an emergency, but they aren’t dedicated to a rescue role. With the advent of long tunnels came the need to have rescue trains specifically designed to fight fires inside tunnels and rescue persons at the same time. I think it is interesting that other than Germany, only Switzerland is mentioned as having dedicated rescue trains. I would think most countries would need some of this equipment.
From the same search and clicking on Images, we see lots of pictures of rail cars for rescue trains. One photo shows a new rail crane with what I assume is an extendable counterweight.
Photo1_Crane_Counterweight.jpg — Thomas Linberg, the specific image is the 9th image down on this page.
If you like railway cranes, a video showing two large cranes can be found at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io1SMm8e2VE with the title DB Netz Notfalltechnik – Der komplette Zug mit David und Goliath Notfallkran.
Looking at many of these pictures, I noticed that many of them appeared to be built on what I would call a depressed center flat car, where the frame of the car is much lower between the trucks. This led me to a page that discussed these cars in detail. The first photo on this page shows a car that would be part of the train that would accompany a crane car.
The text of this page explains that these cars are designed to swap out various emergency equipment and that there are two versions of the railcar, the depressed center car, one that is short and one that is long. The ability to swap car bodies saves time. Instead of needing to load specific equipment and supplies into a rescue train as the details of an accident become known, the needed car bodies can be loaded onto the railcars. Photos of both can be seen further down on this page. The various car bodies that can be swapped onto and off of these cars are referred to as residence, workshop and power cars. I assume residence car means where personnel would be housed while working at the accident site. This photo also shows how two such cars can be connected by diaphragms which would be needed to protect the crew from smoke and other hazards in the air of the accident site.
I decided to next search for ‘rescue train’ and look at Images and I found an image of a Swiss firefighting and rescue trainset.
This photo goes along with an article that describes the new rescue trains as having independent air supplies and a tank car for firefighting. I hadn’t thought of this as a rescue train requirement, but, these new rescue trains are designed to be able to haul another train out of a tunnel. These new trains are to be delivered in 2018.
I also found another photo that appears to be a very different Swiss rescue train
showing the fire fighting apparatus.